Last night I tracked down the exact point where Jebel Sarhro ‘Double West’ picks up off the Nekob highway, near Tansikht.
I tried to find it a couple of years ago with a group, but failed. We did it coming down in 2013 – a spectacular afternoon’s ride up MH14 and down MH15.
Glad I left the Husky Terra at the auberge and borrowed a Tornado.
It’s heating up again – my body thermometre doesn’t know if it’s coming or going.
My Hyperpro suspension has softened a bit too, and I found my PLA (preload knob) was close to max.
I emailed Bas at HP and he suggested not upping the low speed comp (also now on max) but cranking up the rebound which I do in the shade of a palm. Who’d have known.
Those carpets are actually pretty heavy and, annoyingly, I filled right up at Agdz, instead of just a couple of litres to get me over. I’ll feel that extra weight on the hill.
Back home, I’ll screw the hydraulic PLA ring down on the shock body a bit and return the comp settings back to medium. With 4 settings it’s easy to get baffled by a high-end shock unless you RTFM.
But they sure do make a difference. My WR rides like my old 650X – there must be something to this progressive spring theory.
With a hot back wind from the south, it’s a tough, 2500-foot climb over 10kms to this pass.
The bike grinds up in 1st and occasionally 2nd, and in places the exposure gets a little alarming.
I stop into the wind a couple of times to cool the motor and calm the nerves.
Luckily, round the corner the track keeps its elevation along a saddle…
… to reach the plateau.
There are nomad tents with grazing sheep and patches of bright green cultivation against the barren rock.
I pass this ruined agadir, or fortified storehouse.
I pass the point where MH14 coming up from Nekob joins this route, but it looks like no one’s used it for a while.
I last did it 5 years ago on an F650GS
(above) and a mate on a TTR. Now it’s becoming another abandoned track suited to light bikes looking for a challenge. F ‘650’ was a great bike; I wish they (or anyone) would make a light, 500cc version.
Then, a few km on I suddenly join a wide, graded track. That wasn’t here last time.
What a relief! I can finally relax for a bit. I’m all for off roading, but that climb was a bit gnarly.
Surely they’re not building a road to the few hamlets up here?
More probably it’s another haul road put in by prospectors to extract Jebel Sarhro’s gold and other minerals.
Down in this basin I follow the haul road skirting a village, but it has yet to breach the ridge. Lots of trucks, rock hammers and dead ends leading to quarries.
With the Garmin map I work my way back to the old village track, get over an antenna pass and carry on north.
It’s actually a very nice track, and I realise why. After storms, work parties from the villages re-cover bare stony sections with sand and gravel to smooth it over and spare the van transporters a hammering. Only useful village tracks get this sort of maintenance.
I recognise this knot of villages by the Oued Dades. Nearly over. I am pooped.
Suddenly I briefly plunge into a verdant oasis of trees and barley. After all the rough, rocky riding it’s quite mesmerising, a real tonic on the eyes.
I stop on the bridge to admire the washerwomen. It sure is nice to see greenery and water.
But as I reach the N10, before I’m even in neutral, I’m set upon by a teenager demanding money.
The N10 is on what I call the Tourist Axis: Marrakech; Ouarzazate; Todra (do me a favour!); Erfoud; Merzouga (Chebbi), with branches down to Mhamid and up to Imilchil. A few years ago at Tinerhir there was a scam where they let fuel pumps run without actually dispensing fuel. (Harder to pull off on a bike with a translucent tank).
I ignore the rude boy and he goes back to work at the blacksmith nearby.
Keep off these axes and you’ll find another Morocco of genuine, friendly people.
There a Ziz nearby – lunch is 40d, a bit more than normal, and a bloke points me in the wrong direction for the toilet. Ya got me! [dickhead].
Time to head up the Dades valley – one long line of auberges and axis activities, but there are scenic views to be had.
Higher and higher I climb. I plan to stop away from the over-priced ‘hello-mister’ throng, at the very last village with the very last auberge before the main ascent tomorrow.
Tilmi. End of the road.
The Assaka auberge is basic, but Hussain cooks up a mean lamb tajine. A good one stews for two hours. He shows me his special, aromatic four-spice mix. Everyone had their own recipe.
Time to translate the day’s jottings into legible data.
Tomorrow one last piste then homeward bound.